Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

Overview

Dear Friend,

May I share a story that is very dear to my heart?

It's a story of hillbillies and simple folk, net casters and tax collectors. A story of a movement that exploded like a just-opened fire hydrant out of Jerusalem and spilled into the ends of the earth: into the streets of Paris, the districts of Rome, and the ports of Athens, Istanbul, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires....

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Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

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Overview

Dear Friend,

May I share a story that is very dear to my heart?

It's a story of hillbillies and simple folk, net casters and tax collectors. A story of a movement that exploded like a just-opened fire hydrant out of Jerusalem and spilled into the ends of the earth: into the streets of Paris, the districts of Rome, and the ports of Athens, Istanbul, Shanghai, and Buenos Aires. A story so mighty, controversial, head spinning, and life changing that two millennia later we wonder:

Might it happen again?

Heaven knows we hope so. These are devastating times: 1.75 billions people are desperately poor; one billion are hungry. Lonely hearts indwell our neighborhoods and attend our schools. In the midst of it all, here we stand: you, me, and our one-of-a-kind lives. We are given a choice ... an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope?

Worth a try, don't you think?

- Max Lucado

One hundred percent of the author's royalties from Outlive Your Life products will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Megaseller Lucado (3:16--The Numbers of Hope) celebrates his 25th year in publishing with a call to Christians to use "our one-of-a-kind lifetimes and once-in-history opportunity" to "alter the course of human suffering." With his typical folksiness, Lucado uses the first 12 chapters of the biblical book of Acts as a springboard, describing how God uses Galilean fishermen--and each of us--to change the world. Familiar biblical stories--Ananias and Sapphira, the Greek-speaking widows, Peter's dream--take on new meaning as Lucado urges Christians to look beyond their usual lives. "None of us can help everyone. But all of us can help someone. And when we help them, we serve Jesus," he writes simply. Lucado provides discussion questions for group or personal use, as well as ideas for action. The book is the lead item of a wide array of related products, including an audiobook, greeting cards, Bible, children and youth material, curriculum, and gift books. Lucado shows fans both longtime and new that he remains, after all these years, a powerful voice in the call to authentic Christianity. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849947384
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/6/2015

Meet the Author

Max Lucado
More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings ofMax Lucado. He ministers atthe Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.
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Read an Excerpt

Outlive Your Life
Chapter 1
Our Once-in-History
Opportunity
By the time you knew what to call it, you were neck deep in it. You’d toddler-walked and talked, smelled crayons and swung bats, gurgled and giggled your way out of diapers and into childhood.
You’d noticed how guys aren’t gals and dogs aren’t cats and pizza sure beats spinach. And then, somewhere in the midst of it all, it hit you. At your grandpa’s funeral perhaps. Maybe when you waved good-bye as your big brother left for the marines. You realized that these days are more than ice cream trips, homework, and pimples. This is called life. And this one is yours.
Complete with summers and songs and gray skies and tears, you have a life. Didn’t request one, but you have one. A first day. A final day. And a few thousand in between. You’ve been given an honest-to-goodness human life.
You’ve been given your life. No one else has your version. You’ll never bump into yourself on the sidewalk. You’ll never meet anyone who has your exact blend of lineage, loves, and longings. Your life will never be lived by anyone else. You’re not a jacket in an attic that can be recycled after you are gone. And who pressed the accelerator? As soon as one day is lived, voilà, here comes another. The past has passed, and the good old days are exactly that: old days, the stuff of rearview mirrors and scrapbooks. Life is racing by, and if we aren’t careful, you and I will look up, and our shot at it will have passed us by.
Some people don’t bother with such thoughts. They grind through their days without lifting their eyes to look. They live and die and never ask why.
But you aren’t numbered among them, or you wouldn’t be holding a book entitled Outlive Your Life. It’s not enough for you to do well. You want to do good. You want your life to matter. You want to live in such a way that the world will be glad you did.
But how can you? How can I? Can God use us?
I have one hundred and twenty answers to that question. One hundred and twenty residents of ancient Israel. They were the charter members of the Jerusalem church (Acts 1:15). Fishermen, some. Revenue reps, others. A former streetwalker and a converted revolutionary or two. They had no clout with Caesar, no friends at the temple headquarters. Truth be told, they had nothing more than this: a fire in the belly to change the world.
Thanks to Luke we know how they fared. He recorded their stories in the book of Acts. Let’s listen to it. That’s right—listen to the book of Acts. It cracks with the sounds of God’s ever-expanding work. Press your ear against the pages, and hear God press into the corners and crevices of the world.
Hear sermons echo off the temple walls. Baptismal waters splashing, just-saved souls laughing. Hear the spoon scrape the bowl as yet another hungry mouth is fed.
Listen to the doors opening and walls collapsing. Doors to Antioch, Ethiopia, Corinth, and Rome. Doors into palaces, prisons, and Roman courts.
And walls. The ancient prejudice between Jew and Samaritan— down! The thick and spiked division between Jew and Gentile—crash!
The partitions that quarantine male from female, landowner from pauper, master from slave, black African from Mediterranean Jew—God demolishes them all.
Acts announces, “God is afoot!”
Is he still? we wonder. Would God do with us what he did with his first followers?
Heaven knows we hope so. These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion are hungry, 2 million are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade. And in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases. More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities. As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles. Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.
Yet in the midst of the wreckage, here we stand, the modern-day version of the Jerusalem church. You, me, and our one-of-a-kind lifetimes and once-in-history opportunity.
Ours is the wealthiest generation of Christians ever. We are bright, educated, and experienced. We can travel around the world in twenty-four hours or send a message in a millisecond. We have the most sophisticated research and medicines at the tips of our fingers. We have ample resources. A mere 2 percent of the world’s grain harvest would be enough, if shared, to erase the problems of hunger and malnutrition around the world. There is enough food on the planet to offer every person twenty-five hundred calories of sustenance a day. We have enough food to feed the hungry.
And we have enough bedrooms to house the orphans. Here’s the math. There are 145 million orphans worldwide. Nearly 236 million people in the United States call themselves Christians. From a purely statistical standpoint, American Christians by themselves have the wherewithal to house every orphan in the world.
Of course, many people are not in a position to do so. They are elderly, infirm, unemployed, or simply feel no call to adopt. Yet what if a small percentage of them did? Hmmm, let’s say 6 percent. If so, we could provide loving homes for the more than 14.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Among the noble causes of the church, how does that one sound? “American Christians Stand Up for AIDS Orphans.” Wouldn’t that headline be a welcome one?
I don’t mean to oversimplify these terribly complicated questions. We can’t just snap our fingers and expect the grain to flow across borders or governments to permit foreign adoptions. Policies stalemate the best of efforts. International relations are strained. Corrupt officials snag the systems. I get that.
But this much is clear: the storehouse is stocked. The problem is not in the supply; the problem is in the distribution. God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering. A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month. Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response? I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night. I do live today; so do you. We are given a choice . . . an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church? This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing force. We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith. How did they do it? What can we learn from their priorities and passion?
Let’s ponder their stories, found in the first twelve chapters of Acts. Let’s examine each event through the lens of this prayer: Do it again, Jesus. Do it again. After all, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10 NLT). We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven but here on earth.
Here’s a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.
After David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried. (Acts 13:36 NLT)
O Lord, what an amazing opportunity you have spread out before me—a chance to make a difference for you in a desperately hurting world. Help me to see the needs you want me to see, to react in a way that honors you, and to bless others by serving them gladly with practical expressions of your love. Help me be Jesus’ hands and feet, and through your Spirit give me the strength and wisdom I need to fulfill your plan for me in my own generation. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable xvii

1 Our Once-in-History Opportunity 1

2 Calling Mr. Pot Roast 9

3 Let God Unshell Youp 19

4 Don't Forget the Bread 31

5 Team Up 41

6 Open Your Door; Open Your Heart 51

7 See the Need; Touch the Hurt 63

8 Persecution: Prepare for It; Resist It 73

9 Do Good, Quietly 85

10 Stand Up for the Have-Nots 97

11 Remember Who Holds You 109

12 Blast a Few Walls 121

13 Don't Write Off Anyone 131

14 Stable the High Horse 141

15 Pray First; Pray Most 153

16 That's Jesus Playing That Fiddle 165

Discussion and Action Guide 175

Notes 209

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